Virginia Commonwealth Rams
Colonial Athletic Association (24-7, 15-3)
Big Wins: 11/15 vs Houston (73-72), 12/2 vs Maryland (85-76), 2/23 at Akron (57-52)
Bad Losses: 11/29 at Hampton (55-64), 1/2 at James Madison (61-62), 3/9 vs William & Mary (54-56)
Coach: Anthony Grant
Eric Maynor, Junior, Guard, 17.8 ppg, 5.4 apg, 4.2 rpg
Jamal Shuler, Senior, Guard, 15.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.5 spg
Joey Rodriguez, Freshman, Guard, 5.1 ppg, 2.5 apg, 1.5 spg
Michael Anderson, Senior, Forward, 7.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg
Wil Fameni, Senior, Forward, 4.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg
Ed Nixon, Freshman, Guard, 1.9 ppg
Brandon Rozzell, Freshman, Guard, 2.5 ppg
Larry Sanders, Freshman, Forward, 4.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.0 bpg
T.J. Gwynn, Sophomore, Forward, 3.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg
Lance Kearse, Freshman, Forward, 3.5 ppg, 1.6 rpg
Kirill Pishchalnikov, Sophomore, Forward, 1.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg
Franck Ndongo, Sophomore, Forward, 1.4 ppg, 1.5 rpg
Why They Can Surprise:
The backcourt is the strength of VCU and Eric Maynor makes it tick. The Junior exploded into a clutch point guard and a great team leader last season and has kept it up this year. Maynor averages 17.8 points per game, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals. Yet it is his 5.4 assists per contest that make him so dangerous. He does a great job of finding his teammates and making smart passes. Maynor is always a threat to drive to the basket and earns a team high 5.3 trips to the charity stripe per game. His outside shooting is solid, but he leaves the majority of long range shooting to backcourt mate Jamal Shuler.
Shuler hits 2.4 long balls per game and is really the team’s only other scoring threat. Shuler does a lot more than just shoot three’s. He is solid on the glass and can do plenty of scoring inside the arc. Freshmen Joey Rodriguez and Ed Nixon have split starts as the third guard. Neither are prolific scorers by any means, but they will help the team in other ways.
Why They Can Disappoint:
When the guards are at the free-throw line, all is well. But the forwards get there quite a bit too and that is not a good thing. Maynor, Shuler, Rodriguez and Nixon all shoot at least 70 percent from the charity stripe. Nobody else on the team eclipses that mark. The forwards also tend to lack in the rebounding department. VCU generally outrebounds the opposition, but a lot of that is due to the guards helping out. The system lends itself to a balanced rebounding effort, but some of the bigger guys like Wil Fameni could do a little more.
Who To Watch:
Fameni was a roleplayer at Arizona State as an underclassman and now is developing into a decent big man at VCU. The 6-7 senior will do a little bit of scoring under the basket, but has been relatively inconsistent this season. Michael Anderson starts by the side of Fameni and will do the dirty work under the basket. Listed at 6-7 and only 205 pounds, Anderson does not have the body to battle inside, but will hustle on the glass and is not a horrible shooter when he takes the opportunity. The player who has made the biggest splash on the frontcourt could be freshman Larry Sanders. At 6-9, he is the tallest player on the team and has shown the potential to be a decent scorer in the post. Yet, it is on the defensive end where Sanders shines. He blocks three shots per game and that has had a huge effect on the Rams defense. With his presence in the paint, VCU ranks in the top five in the nation in opponents field-goal percentage.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 67.1 (212th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 58.1 (8, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.6 (193, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 37.8 (3, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.4 (190, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.4 (75, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 67.5 (221, 8)
Rebound Margin: 2.1 (106, 6)
Assists Per Game: 12.6 (212, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.3 (92, 6)
Joel’s Bracket Says: Elite Eight loss to Mississippi
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